When your art smacks you upside the head...

Spirituality for me is a little like being on a balcony on a tall building.  I have this irrational voice that starts pondering the likelihood that I will suddenly be picked up by a strong wind and sucked out into the sky. Or worse, that I will inexplicably crawl over the railing and jump. The thrilling vertigo is not caused by the height, but my own crazy thoughts. There I stay, admiring the view.  

My spirituality is like that too, a thrilling vertigo grounded by glum atheism. There will be no soaring for me. I don't have that gift. But every once in a while I'm thrilled by the odd yet meaningful coincidence, the uncanny wisdom of a random tarot card, or the surprises found in my own artistic investigations.    

My spirituality is also like a Freudian slip.  The changes in the symbols I explore in my art seem serendipitous until I describe them and they seem laughably obvious. And yet, not to be laughed at. Deeply true.  


One of my symbols is the Stag Woman, who seems to represent my masculine side, the side that is the Man of the House (full of females and my poor son). It is not by choice. I'd rather hide in bed. But my life has demanded that I step up and spread out and learn to be more assertive.  

The other day I focused on Stag Woman in my arts-based research project. Spontaneously, she wilted. Dead and fallen, her antlers reborn as twin trees. Or, inverted into the ground, like roots.  


This twist in her posture seemed fun to play with until I described it out loud: "bent over backwards."

Now that's worth thinking about.

I'm pretty selfish and self centered, I think, and that works out as a sort of self protection. Yet I do have weak boundaries. I'm gullible. My desire to see the best in people is manipulated. Certain people come to mind...

By working with this intimate family of symbols, I've become sensitive to their wisdom. What at first seems like a purely aesthetic experiment becomes a message from deep within. I don't remember my dreams much, and that inner wisdom has discovered this alternate route.

It knows me so well.